It’s a new year, and, as we’ve written about before, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future. But in case you need a reminder to be hopeful in the present, too, here are five stories to help restore your faith in humanity as you enter 2016.
This week, more than 40,000 college students attended Passion’s conferences in Atlanta and Houston. The event, which pastor Louie Giglio started in 1997, gathers young people to worship and pray together and hear from prominent Christian speakers. The conference organizers also usually choose a cause that they ask attendees to give to, and this year, they aimed to raise $575,000 to fund building a hospital in northwest Syria. As the organization explained on their Instagram account, “This lifesaving hospital will provide care for more than 12,000 displaced Syrian women and children every year and become the first newborn ICU in opposition controlled Syria.” They ended up exceeding their goal by more than $200,000, raising a total of $811,813. The extra money will go toward providing medical assistance for 10,000 more people in Syria.
In the summer of 2014, there were 414 homeless veterans in Boston. Today, there are fewer than 80. The Boston Homes for the Brave program, which launched in July 2014, has found permanent housing for 533 homeless veterans since it started. Along with housing resources, the program also offers veterans help securing VA benefits, finding jobs and getting counseling. Boston’s mayor, Marty Walsh, has also announced a plan to end chronic homelessness in the city by 2018.
Two years ago, Heather Krueger was diagnosed with stage four liver disease. Doctors told her that unless she got a transplant, she would only have a few months to live. Chris Dempsey had never met Krueger, but when he heard her cousin talking about her condition, he decided to undergo the tests to see if he was a match for liver donation. “When I heard about it, I just thought I would want someone to help me,” Dempsey told ABC News.
He was a match, and soon, he and Krueger were in the hospital for the transplant surgery. But they both got much more out of the experience than they expected. In the months while they were recovering, the pair started to fall for each other. Dempsey recently proposed, and he and Krueger are planning to marry in October.
For the last three years, Makenna Breading-Goodrich has gone door to door in her town collecting people’s spare coats to give to a local homeless shelter. Every year, the number of donations has grown. The first year, she collected 200 coats, the second year, she collected around 500, and this year, she gathered 872, along with 300 other items of clothing such as hats, gloves and blankets.
On Monday, Nathan Deal, who is the governor of Georgia, pulled back an executive order that stopped the state’s resettling of Syrian refugees. This comes just a few days after the state’s attorney general announced that Georgia’s attempted ban wasn’t legal. Hopefully, other governors who issued similar bans will follow suit. However, Deal’s order never stopped some—like Atlanta-area megachurch Johnson Ferry Baptist—from continuing to settle refugees even during the ban.
May we all eat our favorite foods with this much pure delight.
Dargan is a former RELEVANT editor turned freelancer. Find her online at darganthompson.com or follow her extremely random train of thought on Twitter @darganthompson.